Salesforce is looking at new ways to cut costs as activist investors continue to put pressure on the company. Today, Insider was reporting that the company is implementing much stricter performance measurements for engineering, with some salespeople being put under pressure to quit or succumb to harsh performance policies of their own. This is consistent with what sources have been telling TechCrunch.
This could include performance reviews based on the quantity of code produced for engineers, a flawed way to measure engineering productivity, which encourages quantity over quality. While salespeople are being put between a rock and a hard place, being asked to choose between signing a strict one-month performance improvement plan or taking an exit package.
When asked about this, Salesforce responded with this comment: “Our performance management process drives accountability and rewards excellence.” The company did not elaborate or answer follow-up questions regarding the timing or details of this policy.
TechCrunch has also been hearing that the company is mandating a return to the office, and according to a Salesforce spokesperson, it’s now up to the managers to decide. “Our hybrid approach empowers leaders to make decisions for their teams about which jobs need to be in the office or remote.”
That’s an interesting attitude shift for a company has been promoting the idea of the “all digital, work-from-anywhere workplace” since the pandemic hit in 2020, something they call the Digital HQ. It’s a big part of why the CRM leader spent almost $28 billion to buy Slack in 2020.
But neither is it surprising since CEO and chair Marc Benioff practically telegraphed this at the end of last year, suggesting that folks working from home weren’t as productive.
All of this is probably related to the fact that activist investors -- including Elliott Management, Starboard Value, ValueAct and Inclusive Capital -- have been circling the company, undoubtedly putting tons of pressure on Benioff to increase productivity and cut costs. These firms are a big part of the reason Salesforce announced that it was cutting 10% of its workforce in January, a process that has been handled badly with layoff notices coming in dribs and drabs, leaving workers anxious and uncertain.
Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, blames Boston Consulting Group, which he says was brought in at the behest of the activists to deal with the cuts and implement new performance review policies. “From what we know, BCG made some significant recommendations on how salespeople and developers should be measured to Strengthen productivity,” Wang told TechCrunch. Update: BCG denies being responsible for the performance review policies.
Wang says that whether you think this approach is a good idea or not depends on your perspective. “If I was an investor, I would advocate for this approach, but if I was the owner-founder, I would want something less harsh and more nuanced,” he said.
Wang isn’t a fan of how the activists have handled this, calling them “vulture firms.” While he does agree with their assertion that Salesforce overpaid for bad acquisitions, he believes these firms lack an understanding of how to run a company like Salesforce, and they are ultimately doing more harm than good.
“The vulture firms do not have a good understanding of the investment levels in R&D that are needed for innovation to continue, nor did they understand what level of marketing spend Salesforce needs to remain top of mind for execs,” Wang said.
“They don’t add any value. They come in to just make money on the arbitrage and they leave the firms more damaged than when they were before they were taken over,” he said.
Salesforce signage outside office building in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Club holdings Salesforce (CRM), Nvidia (NVDA) and Humana (HUM) are the subjects of fresh Wall Street research. Here's what analysts had to say about the companies — and our Club take, too.
Marc Benioff, cofounder and CEO of Salesforce, attends a session at the Congress centre during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 17, 2023.
Fabrice Coffrini | Afp | Getty Images
Dan Loeb's hedge fund Third Point has built a position in Salesforce, expanding the group of activists circling the business software maker, CNBC has confirmed.
The news comes two weeks after Salesforce said ValueAct Capital CEO Mason Morfit will join its board in March. Elliott Management and Starboard Value have also disclosed positions in Salesforce in exact months.
Salesforce, which joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2020, has faced high-profile departures and slowing revenue growth of late and dealt with criticism for buying companies such as Slack and Tableau at high multiples. In November, Salesforce gave weaker-than-expected quarterly revenue guidance.
ValueAct's Morfit said in a statement last month that he looks "forward to helping them deliver profitable growth and shareholder returns."
Shares of Salesforce underperformed in 2022, declining almost 48% while the S&P 500 fell 19%. Starboard said in a presentation in October that Salesforce was trading at a discount to its peers mainly because of a "subpar mix of growth and profitability."
On Jan. 4, Salesforce shares rose more than 3% after the company announced a plan to cut 10% of employees.
"The environment remains challenging and our customers are taking a more measured approach to their purchasing decisions," Marc Benioff, Salesforce's co-founder and CEO, wrote in a letter to employees.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Third Point's investment on Wednesday.
Last year, Third Point took a stake in Disney, and it later reached a deal with the media company that included adding former Meta executive Carolyn Everson to its board of directors. In 2020, the firm invested in Intel and urged the chipmaker to pursue "strategic alternatives" after losing market share.
WATCH: Salesforce: Cowen analyst Derrick Wood weighs in on the exact stock surge
In a competitive job market and with increasing layoffs — especially in the tech sector — every differentiator can make a huge impact. One way to go about this is getting a professional certification, which can not only expand or refresh certain skills and make you stand out but also, in many cases, boost your salary as well.
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Often, employees who are highly skilled and interested in in-demand roles command large salary premiums, and employers want to know that they’re putting their money in the right place, said Paul Lewis, chief customer officer at job search engine Adzuna.
“Certifications can supply HR teams and hiring managers that reassurance,” he said.
Another advantage for candidates with certifications is that it also demonstrates their proactive attitude toward learning and driving for excellence, which are top soft skills that employers look for when hiring, Lewis added.
Here are some of the top certifications that can help you boost your salary.
According to Simplilearn, this certification enables you to learn and master the concepts of being a Salesforce administrator and app builder.
According to Glassdoor, Salesforce jobs are increasing 1.5 times faster than similar roles, and there were more than 300,000 Salesforce jobs available. Also, employees with these jobs can earn an annual average salary of $87,000 and up to $160,000, Simplilearn added.
Take Our Poll: Do You Have a Second Job or Backup Plan in Case You Are Laid Off?
Simplilearn notes that this certification features masterclasses by Purdue faculty and IBM experts and includes exclusive hackathons and Ask Me Anything sessions by IBM.
HubSpot is one company that offers a free digital marketing certification course, which is geared for marketing managers looking to upskill their digital marketing expertise, content marketers looking to broaden their skillset or students looking for an introduction to digital marketing.
For example, this will teach how to optimize websites for search engines, create a non-paid strategy to build and grow a following and create an ad strategy to amplify your business message to a targeted audience.
The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) PMP certification “proves you have the ability to lead projects for any organization and in any industry,” according to its website.
The IBM Data Engineering Professional Certification will teach the skills you need “to design, deploy and manage structured and unstructured data and gain experience with key tools through hands-on projects,” according to a description of the certification. It is for “anyone who wants to develop job-ready skills, tools and a portfolio for an entry-level data engineer position.”
Coursera offers this certification with courses by Stanford University and DeepLearning.ai.
It has three courses around “foundational AI concepts through an intuitive visual approach, and introduces the code needed to implement the algorithms and the underlying math,” according to the description.
The SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications are “recognized and valued by employers across the globe in all industries as the premiere human resources certifications,” according to SHRM.org.
According to SHRM, those who earn the SHRM Certification report earning salaries 14% to 15% higher than their peers.
Scrum is “a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems” and is “the most widely used and popular agile framework,” according to the Scrum Alliance.
CNBC reported that this certification is highly in demand, particularly in the tech sector, and can qualify candidates for positions that pay an average of $135,000.
FRMs are constantly in demand by the world’s leading companies and banks, according to the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), and these certifications are awarded “only to professionals who demonstrate the knowledge and ability to anticipate, respond and adapt to critical risk issues.” According to GARP, it is considered to be the equivalent of a U.S. master’s degree.
According to the Python Institute, this Certified Entry-Level Python Programmer certification measures the candidate’s ability to accomplish coding tasks related to the essentials of programming in the Python language.
The institute says: “Becoming PCEP certified ensures that the individual is acquainted with the most essential means provided by Python 3 to enable them to start their own studies at an intermediate level and to continue their professional development.”
So, in which cases might a certification be particularly helpful?
Certifications can certainly supply you an edge over your competition and also result in the ability to negotiate a higher salary, said Runa Knapp, co-founder and chief business development officer at FoundHer.
Knapp said her company recently placed a candidate who had been out of work for seven years but had earned exact Salesforce certifications. She “secured a job at a global company and beat out the competition,” Knapp said.
In industries such as technology and data science, technologies are evolving rapidly and workers need to constantly be upskilling to stay on top of the latest trends, Adzuna’s Lewis said.
“For example, listing a computer science college degree from 10 years ago on your resume doesn’t supply an employer assurance that you can use the latest tech today,” Lewis said. “However, certifications can fill that gap.”
Knapp said experience often trumps the certifications someone might hold, but “if two candidates are on the same playing field … but one holds a specialized and relevant certification, the latter may be able to fetch a higher starting salary.”
Joshua Eisen, managing partner of Morningside Evaluations, explained that hiring managers might consider certificates from career changers differently than they consider those from people staying put in their careers.
“A career changer might rely more on certificates to demonstrate that they possess the skills and knowledge required in their new careers,” Eisen said.
Meanwhile, people looking to stay put will use certificates to show employers that they are at the top of their professions or in some way distinguished within their fields.
“For example,” Eisen said, “the career changer should tout a certificate of a new professional qualification while someone staying in their career should emphasize that they are current with trends in the industry or [have] an award for excellence in their performance.”
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 10 Certifications That Can Boost Your Salary
Corporations bought a record 36.7 gigawatts in renewable energy last year, according to the latest figures from BloombergNEF. That was up a respectable 18 percent from 2021 levels. But the sheer size of those numbers overshadows a new reality as 2023 unfolds: The clean power procurement practices and models that have served corporate buyers so well for the past five or so years are in need of an overhaul.
Recent partnerships announced by Microsoft, through its unique link-up with turnkey solar provider Qcells, and Salesforce, which is buying clean power in emerging markets, provide hints of what the future may hold.
A deal disclosed by Salesforce makes use of a relatively untried financial mechanism called distributed renewable energy certificates (DRECs), which help aggregate and certify the impact of multiple, small-scale projects. It highlights a growing concern among buyers: how to support projects in emerging economies.
The latest BNEF data underscores the current reality: A vast majority of all corporate purchases are centered on North America and Europe, largely because of favorable regulatory climates and the existence of power purchase agreement (PPA) contract structures that enable companies to offtake energy from wind and solar installation. Last year, for example, contracts in the Americas accounted for almost two-thirds of the total.
But the clean energy transition modeled by the International Energy Agency requires a massive investment in emerging and developing countries — at least $600 billion in capital investment — something that has failed to materialize. One challenge is that corporate clean energy buyers generally only receive credit for investments in regions in which they currently do business, under today’s carbon accounting rules and guidelines, something acknowledged by nine companies (including Salesforce) that created the Emissions First Partnership. Part of their mission statement: "As climate action has accelerated over the last decade, our organizations are ready to embrace an accounting framework that moves beyond the current approach of megawatt-hour matching, and focuses on the heart of the matter, emissions impact."
These companies aren’t waiting for permission to innovate. Under an agreement, San Francisco-based Salesforce will buy 280,000 megawatt-hours of clean power over the next eight years from small projects in Brazil, India, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, developed by aggregator Powertrust, headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia.
To be clear, this is a tiny sliver of the renewable energy Salesforce procures each year in pursuit of its climate goals: In fiscal year 2023, ended Jan. 31, the company was involved in projects generating close to 850,000 MWh (pending an audit). The new project will generate roughly 35,000 annually.
Salesforce has set out parameters for new projects it deems appropriate including the location and how well a project will deliver on the SDGs related to climate resilience, universal energy access and gender equality.
But these projects would not have been possible without Salesforce’s support, according to Megan Lorenzen, senior manager of sustainability at the company, and author of its "More Than a Megawatt" report. "We are looking to procure renewable energy where we can have the most impact," she told me. "We see a dramatically different impact on carbon emissions in different grids and at different times of day."
The estimated investment in solar capacity will be $65 million, although Salesforce is providing only a portion of that amount, Lorenzen said.
Here’s a snapshot of the projects:
Salesforce is receiving credit for its investment through DRECs — blockchain is helping gather the data, according to Lorenzen. The company has set out parameters for new projects it deems appropriate, including the proposed locations (priority is given to schools, hospitals, public service facilities and disadvantaged communities), and how well a project will deliver on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals related to climate resilience, universal energy access and gender equality. "The generation is recorded, aggregated and validated," she said.
While Salesforce is looking outside the U.S. with its latest strategy, the relationship Microsoft disclosed in late January with solar company Qcells is very much focused on its ability to keep supporting new development in the United States.
The deal provides for Microsoft to buy "at least" 2.5 gigawatts in solar panels from Qcells. The solar company’s South Korean parent, Hanwha Group, is investing $2.5 billion to build manufacturing facilities in rural Georgia, a development made possible through a tax credit in the Inflation Reduction Act. Aside from the panels, Qcells also provides engineering, procurement and construction services for solar installations.
Brian Janous, general manager of energy and renewables at Microsoft, said there were two major drivers for the relationship, which took more than a year to negotiate: the COVID-triggered supply chain constraints that have made it tougher to get projects off the ground over the past two years; and his company’s realization that it might be able to use its buying power to negotiate more favorable supply relationships directly. Microsoft in July 2021 pledged to match all of its power consumption with zero-carbon energy purchases. As of that time, its collective contracts for clean power (not just solar) were 7.8 billion globally. The deal also addresses concerns over tariffs that the U.S. has placed on panels imported from China, and that could affect four other Southeast Asian nations by June 2024.
"The most important benefit is going to be flexibility and speed," Janous told me. "That is the thing that keeps me up at night, is just understanding the industry challenges," which range from tariffs to slow interconnection permitting cycles to grid stability. "It’s remarkable what we have managed to get done," he said, referring to the growth in corporate renewable purchases. "The next 10 years is going to be even more challenging."
The Qcells deal doesn’t preclude Microsoft from working with other solar development companies, and Janous said his team has received good feedback about the Qcells deal from other developers. And while this is the first deal of its kind, there could be others in the offing. "We have been thinking about this concept for a while and are excited to get this done," he said.
The most important benefit is going to be flexibility and speed.
Likewise, Qcells is open to potential strategic relationships with other corporate buyers, according to spokeswoman Marta Stoepker. The company is focused on making it as easy as possible for commercial deals to get down, she told me.
Qcells is breaking ground this quarter on a new factory in Bartow County, Georgia, that will manufacture up to 3.3 GW of solar ingots, wafers, cells and panels annually. Its facility in Dalton, Georgia, has a capacity of 2 GW of solar panels, which the company describes as the "largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the Western Hemisphere." Qcells expects to create 2,500 jobs more in Georgia as a result of its expansion, bringing its total in the state to 4,000. The investment was made possible by provisions in the Solar Energy Manufacturing in America Act, which is part of the IRA.
Qcells is the top-ranking U.S. solar module maker, according to ongoing research by Wood Mackenzie, and it is a leading provider for commercial installations. The relationship with Microsoft should help solidify that position, and it could set the stage for similar alliances as corporate energy buyers look to Strengthen their access to solar panel supplies.
Software as a service (SaaS) apps are ubiquitous, hybrid work is the new normal, and protecting them and the important data they store is a big challenge for organizations. Today, 59 percent of security professionals find the SaaS sprawl challenging to manage1 and have identified cloud misconfigurations as the top risk in their environment.2
To combat these attacks effectively, security teams need a new approach that protects their data within cloud apps beyond the traditional scope of cloud access security brokers (CASBs). That’s why Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps is now delivering full protection of SaaS applications. This includes new investments in SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM), advanced threat protection as part of Microsoft’s extended detection and response (XDR) solution, and app-to-app protection—while continuing to build upon other powerful CASB capabilities like Shadow IT discovery and information protection.
Today, we are excited to announce that Defender for Cloud Apps is extending its SSPM capabilities to some of the most critical apps organizations use today, including Microsoft 365, Salesforce,3 ServiceNow,4 Okta,5 GitHub, and more.
Historically, CASBs have been the main tool to address SaaS security needs with Shadow IT discovery, visibility into cloud app usage, and protection against app-based threats as the main use cases. However, the uptick in app usage combined with employees accessing company resources outside of the corporate perimeter has introduced new attack vectors. That’s why Defender for Cloud Apps now delivers capabilities to address these new attack vectors across prevention and protection for a more holistic approach throughout the app usage lifecycle. The addition of SSPM enables security teams to Strengthen the organization’s security posture; app-to-app protection addresses a new threat scenario where apps exchange data directly; and the integration into the Microsoft 365 Defender XDR solution enables powerful correlation of signal and visibility across the full kill chain of advanced attacks. These new sets of capabilities, combined with the traditional CASB scenarios, make up the Microsoft approach to holistic SaaS security and will help organizations effectively protect against app-based threats.
In a exact research paper, Omdia applauds Microsoft’s vision of a broader security offering for SaaS and suspects that other vendors will need to emulate its offering, analyst firm Omdia recognized this new approach, confirming the need for a holistic strategy to protect cloud apps.
Prevention and optimizing their organization’s security posture has become a critical focus area for security teams to limit the number of breaches. A key challenge in securing SaaS apps, however, is that security teams need to research configuration best practices for each app individually, which creates significant overhead. To streamline this process, Defender for Cloud Apps launched SSPM in June 2022 to surface misconfigurations and provide recommendations to strengthen an app’s posture.
In preview starting today, Defender for Cloud Apps now provides security posture management for Microsoft 365, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Okta, GitHub, and more. Not only are we expanding the breadth of app coverage but also the depth of assessments and capabilities for each application. Here is what to expect:
In exact years, there has been an increase in attacks involving OAuth applications. Back in April 2022, Github fell victim to a campaign where an attacker used stolen OAuth app tokens to gain access to private user code repositories and began cloning them to exfiltrate data.6 The main challenge with an OAuth app is that it’s difficult to see the level of permissions and the type of data it can access. They often behave unnoticed while still having extensive permissions to access data in other apps on behalf of an employee, which makes them easily susceptible to a compromise.
Defender for Cloud Apps recognizes this open attack vector and the need for stronger app-to-app protection. With the main issue being visibility and governing these apps, upkeeping app hygiene is critical. To help organizations fill this gap, we will soon release a new capability that will allow security teams to gain visibility into unused apps, credentials, and expired credentials. Identified by Microsoft Azure Active Directory, they will be able to see these vulnerabilities and implement a predefined policy with detailed remediation actions, to easily resolve these potential risks.
Unused OAuth apps and credentials can be a backdoor for an adversary to gain access to an organization’s environment to exfiltrate data or use privileged credentials to access sensitive data in another app. By using these new capabilities in Defender for Cloud Apps, organizations will be able to drastically reduce their potential OAuth attack surface.
While cloud apps continue to be a target for adversaries trying to exfiltrate corporate data, sophisticated attacks often cross modalities—moving laterally from email as the most common entry point, to compromise endpoints, and identities, before ultimately gaining access to in-app data. While CASBs address alert security operations center (SOC) teams by identifying anomalies like a mass obtain activity, this approach leaves SOC teams without enough context to prioritize their investigation effectively.
That’s why Defender for Cloud Apps is natively integrated into Microsoft 365 Defender. The XDR technology correlates signals from the Microsoft Defender suite across endpoints, identities, email, and SaaS apps to provide incident-level detection, investigation, and powerful response capabilities like automatic attack disruption. The integration of SaaS security into an XDR experience gives SOC teams full kill chain visibility and improves operational efficiency with better prioritization and shorter response times to ultimately protect the organization more effectively.
As an integral part of the Microsoft 365 Defender XDR solution, organizations can satisfy both: their SaaS security use cases, as well as leverage the SaaS signals and insights for effective SOC processes.
It is critical that you protect data and assets by implementing SaaS security principles in your security strategy while empowering users to stay productive.
Microsoft’s unique approach helps security professionals easily start no matter where they are in their app protection journey. Learn how to protect your organization’s apps across the SaaS app management lifecycle through a set of simple steps and best practices:
To learn more about Microsoft Security solutions, visit our website. Bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us on LinkedIn (Microsoft Security) and Twitter (@MSFTSecurity) for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity.
12023 State of SaaSOps, Better Cloud. 2023.
2Top 7 SaaS Security Risks (and How to Fix Them), Catherine Chipeta. June 13, 2022.
3Connect Salesforce to Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, Microsoft Learn. February 5, 2023.
4Connect ServiceNow to Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, Microsoft Learn. February 5, 2023.
5Connect Okta to Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps, Microsoft Learn. February 5, 2023.
6Security alert: Attack campaign involving stolen OAuth user tokens issued to two third-party integrators, Mike Hanley. April 15, 2022.
Salesforce, the global CRM leader, empowers companies of every size and industry to digitally transform and create a 360° view of their customers. For more information about Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), visit: www.salesforce.com.
Investors are more cautious than ever following a difficult and volatile year for the stock market. People are eager to invest for a potential market recovery, but it's hard to figure out which stocks are smart buys.
Investors with long-term vision should consider these three stocks with excellent drivers of both stability and growth. All three could end up being smart buys right now.
Veeva Systems (VEEV -1.47%) is a healthcare technology stock that keeps a low profile despite having a number of attractive qualities. The company dominates its target market, with more than 1,000 customers across the life sciences industry, including most of the major pharmaceutical companies.
Veeva's product suite has become an essential tool for numerous functions, including product development, research, clinical trials, regulatory compliance, and marketing. That makes Veeva "sticky," keeping its customers engaged and creating a barrier to entry for other potential competitors. Its specialization in life sciences also wards off more generalized players in the customer relationship management (CRM) space.
Veeva's financial results demonstrate all these qualities in action. Despite experiencing a slowdown, the company reported a 16% revenue expansion year over year in the most exact quarterly earnings report. That far outpaces the global economy, which is an important catalyst for the stock.
Veeva also reported 119% net dollar retention among subscribers. This means that a high percentage of its subscription customers were kept on the books year over year, and that customers are expanding their subscriptions. That's a strong indicator of high customer satisfaction, a wide economic moat, and an effective sales strategy.
Investors should love that metric. High growth and retention are fueling free cash flow that is poised to approach $1 billion this year.
Veeva's valuation is still firmly in the growth stock range, but it's hit the cheapest price relative to free cash flow in years. Expensive valuations can lead to volatility, extending the time required to pay off. Long-term growth investors still have a chance for strong returns here.
It's been a tough run for Salesforce (CRM -1.75%) shareholders, as the stock is down over 40% from its all-time high. That's unfortunate, but it also creates an opportunity for investors who like the company's long-term prospects.
As we've seen throughout the tech sector, Salesforce's growth has slowed over the past year. Its annual revenue growth rate tumbled from over 25% to 14% over the past 12 months. The CRM leader is struggling against natural headwinds as its scale increases and it reaches market saturation.
However, temporary macroeconomic conditions are also contributing heavily to the exact swoon. That shouldn't necessarily impact long-term forecasts, and Salesforce is still outpacing the economy in general and most stocks -- even at this depleted level. The growth narrative is still intact, and it's fair to expect acceleration when the global economy turns around.
Salesforce's wide economic moat instills confidence that it can ride out the temporary storm. The company has a sustainable competitive advantage due to its large scale, massive R&D budget, and high switching costs. It's difficult for any large competitors or new entrants to match the quality and scope Salesforce.com is offering. Even if a competitor were able to produce a superior product, it would still be difficult to pry customers away. Salesforce is operationally critical in numerous functions for many customers, making it an expensive, high-risk hassle to switch over.
Those subscriptions are likely to keep rolling in, producing more free cash flow each year. Shares of Salesforce are now available with a P/E ratio of 30, which is a great value for such strong fundamentals.
Zscaler (ZS -0.44%) is a leading cybersecurity stock that got battered despite producing excellent financial results. The stock's valuation was out of control in the pandemic bull market, and share prices slumped 60% as valuations rationalized amid rising interest rates. Now, savvy growth investors have to consider this opportunity.
Zscaler is an industry leader in edge security. Simply put, the company's product suite helps to protect large organizations' networks from cyber threats that can access sensitive data through user devices. Several high-profile cybersecurity events in exact years were the result of phishing attacks that allowed hackers to infiltrate corporate networks. This is exactly the sort of activity that Zscaler helps to curb.
Demand for these sorts of security solutions is surging amid the digital transformation of the global economy and the rising prevalence of remote work. Businesses of all industries face evolving problems that are here to stay, creating enormous catalysts for leading vendors of cybersecurity software.
Zscaler has capitalized on those conditions. The company reported 54% year-over-year revenue growth in its most exact quarter, along with strong new bookings figures. It also produced around $100 million in free cash flow during that quarter, helping to ease concerns about Zscaler's failure to achieve accounting profitability.
Concerns about Zscaler's slowdown and runaway valuation were warranted, but the pendulum has swung in the other direction. High interest rates might keep the stock down for the time being, but long-term investors have an opportunity to capitalize on a standout leader in one of the world's highest-growth industries.
Ryan Downie has positions in Salesforce and Veeva Systems. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Salesforce, Veeva Systems, and Zscaler. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Leading cloud-based software company Salesforce (CRM) delivered double-digit top-line growth in its last reported quarter. Moreover, the company raised its guidance for fiscal 2023. CRM is well-positioned to achieve solid growth owing to product innovations and multi-cloud expansions. Therefore, this tech stock is an ideal buy now. Read on….
Cloud-based software company Salesforce, Inc. (CRM) reported better-than-expected third-quarter results. The company surpassed the consensus revenue estimate by $3.41 million, while it topped analysts’ EPS estimate by 14.5%. Marc Benioff, CRM’s Chair & Co-CEO, said, “We’re grateful to our customers for their commitment, especially as we help them succeed in this challenging environment.”
“Our customers are tapping into the power of Customer 360 to gain faster time to value and reduce costs. We continued to drive profitable growth in the quarter, and we are closing more transformational deals and multi-cloud expansions,” said Bret Taylor, Co-CEO of CRM.
Furthermore, the company updated its full-year 2023 guidance. CRM’s revenue is expected to come between $30.90 billion and $31 billion, an increase of about 17% year-over-year. The company's guidance for non-GAAP operating margin increased from 20.4% to 20.7%. Also, it expects non-GAAP EPS between $4.92 and $4.94 versus the prior guidance of $4.71 to $4.73.
On January 23, 2023, Activist investor Elliott Management Corp made a multi-billion-dollar investment in CRM.
Jesse Cohn, managing partner at Elliott, commented, “Salesforce is one of the preeminent software companies in the world, and having followed the company for nearly two decades, we have developed a deep respect for Marc Benioff and what he has built. We look forward to working constructively with Salesforce to realize the value befitting a company of its stature.”
Elliott Management joined hedge fund Starboard Value which took a significant stake in the company last year. Moreover, Wall Street analysts said the company would likely be urged by activist investors Elliott Investment and Starboard Value to cut more jobs, change the board, and spin-off big acquisitions to drive higher profits.
Shares of CRM have gained 12.6% over the past month to close the last trading session at $167.03. Moreover, Wall Street analysts expect the stock to hit $188.68 in the next 12 months, indicating a potential upside of 13%.
Here is what could shape CRM’s performance in the near term:
Positive exact Developments
On January 12, 2023, CRM introduced a series of innovations to help retailers personalize every shopping moment.
Jujhar Singh, EVP and GM of Salesforce Industries, said, “Salesforce for Retail brings together the power and flexibility of Salesforce’s platform with an expansive ecosystem so retailers can leverage real-time data to acquire new customers, deliver personalized experiences, generate advertising revenue, increase margins, and drive efficiency.”
Also, in January, CRM and Walmart Inc. (WMT) announced their partnership as WMT intends to sell more of its technology and services to other companies. This collaboration between the industry giants is expected to boost shoppers’ experience.
On December 8, 2022, CRM announced that Genie Customer Data Cloud is now powered by Tableau, allowing businesses to understand better and unlock customer data and deliver actionable insights in real-time and at scale. Companies can analyze billions of data points stored in Genie using Tableau, visualize and automate insights, and take action securely.
Genie Customer Data Cloud witnessed massive adoption, powering more than 43 consumer engagements and ingesting 1.1 trillion records for CRM customers during Cyber Week 2022. A set of new innovations might extend CRM’s customer reach and boost its profitability.
For the fiscal 2023 third quarter ended October 31, 2022, CRM’s subscription and support revenue increased 13.4% year-over-year to $7.23 billion, while its professional services and other revenue came in at $604 million, up 24.8% year-over-year. Also, its total revenues grew 14.2% year-over-year to $7.84 billion.
Furthermore, the company’s gross profit came in at $5.75 billion, an increase of 14.5% year-over-year. Its income from operations was $460 million, up 1,110.5% year-over-year.
Favorable Analyst Estimates
Analysts expect CRM’s revenue for the fiscal year (ended January 2023) to come in at $31.05 billion, indicating an increase of 17.2% year-over-year. The consensus EPS estimate of $4.93 for the ongoing year indicates a 3.1% year-over-year increase.
Moreover, the company has an impressive earnings surprise history since it surpassed the consensus EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters.
Also, the company’s revenue and EPS for the current fiscal year (ending January 2024) are expected to grow 10.4% and 18.2% from the previous year to $34.28 billion and $5.83, respectively.
POWR Ratings Show Promise
CRM has an overall rating of B, which equates to a Buy in our proprietary POWR Ratings system. The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors, with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.
Our proprietary rating system also evaluates each stock based on eight distinct categories. CRM has an A grade for Growth, in sync with its top-line growth in the last reported quarter. In addition, it has a B grade for Sentiment, consistent with favorable analyst estimates.
CRM is ranked #33 out of 136 stocks in the Software – Application industry. Click here to access CRM’s Quality, Value, Momentum, and Stability ratings.
View all the top stocks in the Software – Application industry here.
Software giant CRM’s revenue and net income have grown at CAGRs of 24.9% and 22.1% over the past five years, respectively. The company has also raised its full-year 2023 guidance. Analysts seem bullish about its growth prospects since the company is committed to bolstering its product lineup.
CRM is currently trading above its 50-day and 200-day moving averages of $146.45 and $160.53, respectively, indicating an uptrend. Given its robust financials and bright growth prospects, it could be wise to buy this tech stock now.
How Does Salesforce, Inc. (CRM) Stack up Against Its Peers?
While CRM has an overall POWR Rating of B, one might consider investing in these other stocks within the Software-Application industry with an A (Strong Buy) rating: Open Text Corporation (OTEX), Commvault Systems, Inc. (CVLT), and Progress Software Corporation (PRGS).
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CRM shares were unchanged in premarket trading Monday. Year-to-date, CRM has gained 25.97%, versus a 6.70% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.
Mangeet’s eager interest in the stock market led her to become an investment researcher and financial journalist. Using her fundamental approach to analyzing stocks, Mangeet’s looks to help retail investors understand the underlying factors before making investment decisions.
The post 1 Tech Stock You'll Wish You Bought Sooner appeared first on StockNews.com
The problems of Salesforce persist as the once-dominant SaaS leader sees customer Twitter decrease expenditure by 75%. The CRM company needs help to integrate new engineer productivity measurements, ostensibly in response to requests from a group of activist investors looking to sway corporate direction when a high-profile customer experiences a revenue loss.
According to The Information, the problematic social media site, which Elon Musk, the creator of cars and rockets, purchased and subsequently fired around half of its staff, reduced its contract with Salesforce last month from $20 million to roughly $5 million in accordance with the staffing reduction. Instead of being laid off, employees at Salesforce ($CRM) can choose to receive a “Prompt Exit Package” of compensation. However, this package will have less severance.
As activist investors continue to pressure the firm, Salesforce looks at new methods to reduce costs. According to a story from Insider published today, the corporation is putting far higher performance standards for engineering, and some salesmen are being pressured to resign or submit to their own stringent performance standards.
This may involve giving engineers their performance ratings depending on how much code they generate, a poor method for gauging their productivity that promotes quantity over quality. Salespeople are forced to decide between accepting a stringent one-month performance improvement plan or a leave package, which puts them in a difficult situation.
In response to a question, Salesforce stated, “Our performance management process drives accountability and rewards excellence.” Regarding the introduction or specifics of this policy, the corporation did not go into further detail or respond to follow-up queries.
A Salesforce spokeswoman confirmed that the managers are now deciding if the business mandates a return to the office. “Our hybrid approach empowers leaders to make decisions for their teams about which jobs need to be in the office or remote.” This organisation, which goes by the name Digital HQ, has been pushing the concept of the “all digital, work from anywhere office” since the epidemic struck in 2020. This is a significant factor in the CRM market leader’s roughly $28 billion purchase of Slack in 2020.
But it’s also not surprising, given that CEO and chair Marc Benioff implied those working from home were less effective at the end of last year. All of this is certainly connected to activist investors circling the business, including Elliott Management, Starboard Value, ValueAct, and Inclusive Capital. These investors are putting much pressure on CEO Marc Benioff to boost productivity and reduce expenses. Due in large part to these businesses, Salesforce stated in January that it would be laying off 10% of its personnel. This process has been poorly managed, with layoff notifications arriving piecemeal and causing uncertainty and anxiety among employees.